Kevin Maurice Johnson (born March 4, 1966 in Sacramento, California).
KJ was my favourite point guard of the 90s era. In my view he was the prototype for the point guards that we now watch in the league. Players whose height is less than 1.90cm (almost 6-2) and dunk the ball in any possible way, score more than 20ppg. and run the game as well. That type of player was Kevin Johnson, those of us that had the opportunity to watch him play will never forget the unbelievable dunk on Hakeem Olajuwon (I am sure that neither Hakeem will ever forget).
Kevin Johnson has been drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers at number 7 of the 1987 NBA Draft where he played as a reserve of, no.7 of this list, Mark Price. Of course KJ came from the bench for the Cavs for less than four months as he was traded to the Phoenix Suns at the trade deadline date of the same season (25 February 1988).
He played for the Suns for the rest of his career and he was always a starter and their franchise player. From the moment he joined the Suns he was lucky enough to team up with some other notable players. During the first season of the decade (1989-90) himself alongside with Tom Chambers, Jeff Hornacek, Eddie Johnson and Mark West led the Suns to the Western Conference Finals where they lost 4-2 to the Portland Trail Blazers.
At that same year he made his first all-star appearance, as a reserve for West, and he was named in the second all-NBA team. Next year he was a starter for the West all-stars and had one more appearance in all-star game in 1991-92 season. He has been named in second all-NBA team four times in total (three of them during the 90s) and one time in the third all-NBA team.
Kevin Johnson is one of only two players in NBA history (Magic Johnson is the other) to have twice averaged at least 20.0 points and 10.0 assists per game over the course of a season while shooting at least .500 from the field. His other accomplishments are equally astonishing as his team was the only one that has defeated Magic Johnson’s Lakers and John Stockton’s Jazz in the same post season, in 1990 and he is the Suns all-time leader in assists, free throws made and attempted.
He was too good and he made his teammates better, he was spectacular and a joy to watch but his team was lacking something in order to make the next step and reach the Finals. That was a player with a character and a winner attitude as a hunger to win it all. This player was Charles Barkley, that came to Phoenix on 1992 and made a great impact. The Suns finally reached the NBA Finals where, as usual for the Western Conference winners, lost to the Chicago Bulls 4-2. KJ played again exceptionally well and even tried to guard the ‘best of the best’ during that series. In Game 3 of that series KJ played 62 minutes in a triple-overtime thriller, which is a record for minutes played in a play-offs game. Kevin Johnson said about that game that “without a doubt it was the most physically and mentally draining game I’ve ever been a part of. Everyone on the team played with passion and energy, and we pulled out a win in perhaps one of the greatest games in NBA Finals history”.
There is an incident that happened that season which, I will never forget and I guess KJ will probably remembers that now and laughs, although it was not that funny when it actually happened. Charles Barkley, after nailing a game-winning shot to beat the Blazers 115-114 in the third to last game of the regular season, jumped on his teammate Kevin Johnson to celebrate. The thing was that Barkley outweighed KJ by about 70 pounds and wound up injuring Johnson’s knee. KJ missed the final two games of the regular season and the playoff opener against the Lakers (a game they lost).
That was the only trip that KJ took to the NBA Finals but the injuries never let him alone, he faced many more injuries serious and not that led him to retire on 1999 and made a short comeback for the 2000 play-offs.
I really liked they way Johnson was playing the game and I believe that he inspired many young talents of his era. I also loved his Converse shoes, (Kevin Johnson Converse React Juice) as a kid.